The Yankees haven’t really had a busy offseason. They added James Paxton to the rotation and re-signed J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia, but still have very much the same team that ended the 2018 season. There is definitely still room for improvement this offseason.
Luckily, Santa Claus is coming tonight, and he will certainly bring a few gifts to the Yankees (if they made the nice list, that is). What should the Bombers ask for on their holiday wishlist?
Major Award: Manny Machado
In A Christmas Story, Ralphie’s father referred to a particular lamp he won in a contest as his “major award.” For the Yankees this offseason, it is clear that there is one player left who could both fill an existing hole and qualify as a typical, Yankees-style major award.
Manny Machado didn’t seem like a free agency fit earlier on, but the Yankees have become finalists for the 26-year-old infielder, along with the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox. Machado won’t make his decision until after the New Year, but the Yankees may be his best choice for a couple of reasons.
For one, the Yankees need a shortstop (at least short term) while Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery. While Gregorius should take over as starting shortstop when he returns to full health, the Yankees shouldn’t let the perceived logjam deter them from adding another impact bat. After all, is there a better way to replace Gregorius than with Machado, and then to hopefully have them both together at full strength for the second half? It’s an image that could make Yankees’ fans collective mouths water.
The biggest sticking points for the Yankees with Machado are his contract demands and his controversial personality. As for the contract, no player gets a mega-deal these days without multiple opt-outs. The Yankees would likely structure the deal so that Machado could opt out after two or three years. This would make it so that the 10-year deal could potentially become a short-term contract that would benefit both team and player if a logjam persists or if Machado is not a fit in New York.
As for that fit, some of the vibes around Machado honestly aren’t good right now. He admittedly doesn’t always hustle, and he’s been accused of being a dirty player. That said, someone has to sign the guy, and there’s no denying his talent. The Yankees know their culture better than anyone, and they should not add a player who will clash in the clubhouse. However, if they feel that some of this reputation is overblown, then they should not hesitate to add Machado. He’d certainly be a “major award,” at least.
Under the Tree: MLB-level Pitching
The presents around the tree are some of the best around Christmas time. It’s the real meat and potatoes of gifts, and the presents that people want and need most. In that aspect, the Yankees need pitching more than anything else this offseason. They could still try to swing a trade for a mid-tier starter, but there’s also some concern around the Yankee bullpen. With David Robertson and Zach Britton’s futures uncertain as free agents, and other targets like Andrew Miller, Joakim Soria and Jeurys Familia already off the board, the Yankees would really like to see one or both of these familiar hurlers under the tree. The bullpen would be shorthanded without them, and both pitchers are still trusty relief options.
You can never have enough pitching, and the club has shaky depth options behind their planned rotation and bullpen pieces. That can be addressed with some solid presents under the tree.
Stocking Stuffers: Depth
The real game changers of an MLB offseason and a Christmas haul are the stocking stuffers. Are your stockings full of small but useful presents, or just more socks?
The Yankees should be seeking useful depth all over the roster. Their backup infielders include Greg Bird, Tyler Wade and Hanser Alberto, which aren’t inspiring options. How about adding Wilmer Flores, Asdrubal Cabrera or Adeiny Hechavarria as a more reliable backup infielder? These are stocking stuffers who would help in the event that Didi Gregorius is out longer than expected.
Moving onto the rotation, another front-line starter would be nice, but you only get one major award. Among possible bargain buys, Derek Holland, Drew Pomeranz and Francisco Liriano are all guys who may be able to be had on minor league deals with invites to spring training. They aren’t flashy one bit, but they may be better depth than Luis Cessa, Domingo German or Chance Adams. Maybe they’ll be the next Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia for the Yankees.
As for the bullpen there are several mid-range to lower-profile relievers out on the market, like Kelvin Herrera, Brad Brach, Luis Avilan, Justin Wilson, David Phelps and Tony Sipp. While they are not All-Stars, they could represent good competition for guys like Tommy Kahnle, A.J. Cole and Stephen Tarpley.
Ultimately, the Yankees probably aren’t planning on making this many moves during the rest of their offseason. However, it never hurts to ask big on your wishlist. The Yankees still have some room for improvement, and they can get it in many ways, from major awards to stocking stuffers. Here’s to hoping that the Bombers (and readers alike) get everything they asked Santa for on their wishlists!